Any Time The Hunter Gets Captured By The game
If I had to hunt for my food I would starve. My whole family would starve because the closest I ever came to capturing a meal was the time I dropped a can of Pringles and chased it down a hill. Perhaps it’s a morality thing, I mean its not like I’m a flatulent oozing vegetarian I love a good steak, but I don’t need to see it slaughtered. I’m still haunted by the one time I had to chose my own lobster only to have it sentenced to death and served to me with a plastic bib on. Why a lobster would wear a plastic bib is anybody’s guess, but back to the point. At the time I couldn’t help thinking what a shit I was for pointing out an innocent lobster to have it sent mercilessly to its death to satisfy my eating urges. One of those things that just kind of stays with you from childhood through older childhood.
Basically I’m saying I’m anti-hunting. I get that some people feel the need to sneak up on and slaughter animals because they have antlers but personally I don’t get it. I‘m not just being a tree hugging liberal about it, although I have hugged my share of tree‘s, but I walked the walked before talking this talk. That’s right, this peacenik hippie freak has walked the wild hills of Loch Sheldrake NY, up in the Catskill mountains, with a loaded rifle in his hand and lived to tell about it. I had mentally prepared myself to use it before leaving, but by the end of the weekend I was mentally prepared to use it on the drunken rifle toting deer killers. How does a long haired hippie freak in a bright colored ski sweater end up hunting wild animals you ask? A trade off.
I had forged a friendship with a dude my age at work named George. George was an avid hunter, going into the hills stealthily in camouflage during bow and arrow season only to return a week later with heat seeking shotgun shells for the opening of gun hunting season. He had been soliciting me for a week to come and join him as I stood my ground until one day he proposed an offer hard to refuse. “JT seriously dude, hunting is the best thing ever. There is nothing like it.” Now that I took as a challenge. Being a confirmed Deadhead I knew for a fact the actual quote is “There is nothing like a Grateful Dead Concert” and I let him know that in no uncertain terms. His response caught me off guard. “I tell you what, I’ll go to one of your Grateful Dead concerts if you come with me next week.” Hmmm, another challenge. I have brought four people already to their first Dead shows and have made for converts. If I go hunting next week it will force him to go to a show and he will also try weed for the first time. Irresistible offer. “Cool”
So it was set that next week I would travel up into the mountains with a loaded weapon in my hands and as a consolation prize turn a friend on to The Dead and get him stoned. For my part I went out and bought a few magazines, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life, and Sports Afield to get myself familiar with all the latest on hunting protocols. What I learned only made me think I was making a huge mistake. But a deals a deal so I called George to find out what to bring. “Just make sure you dress in bright clothes, warm and in layers, and don’t wear that deer musk cologne you use.” Got it! “Okay, and its not cologne, its patchouli oil. But okay, I won’t bring it. I’ll be ready.” I went through my clothes noting a black leather jacket would not be appropriate and opted for a bright red yellow and blue ski sweater and of course layers. Off we went.
The plan was to drive up Friday night and stay at a motel in town, get up early an hit out into the forest is search of some helpless animals to brutally slay. Back in the seventies drinking responsibly meant wearing a seatbelt while guzzling so we drank a few beers on the way up. By the time we got to the motel the only thing we were sporting was a slight buzz. But the bar at the motel took care of that. It was like some kind of frat party or something, a ton and a half of guys getting drunk and doing shots. Pool table, jukebox, all the comforts of a local dive bar. Guys kept coming over to buy George a drink, and when he introduced me bought one for me as well. I’m not a carpenter but I got hammered that night. 2AM and I still had 2 coasters in front of me so we did two shots of Jack Daniels and called it a night. Tomorrow is the big day, the first day of hunting season and I can only assume the only advantage the deer will have is all of us having killer hangovers.
When I finally shook off all the fog from last nights alcohol I realized that all the guys I was watching head out into the woods were the same guys that were so smashed last night. And every last one of them had a bright orange vest, bright orange skullcap, and at least three quarter of them had orange pants as well. Either this was a prison break or hunters wear a lot of orange. All except me of course, who was in the height of winter style with my fleece lined red Nordic ski hat and my bright multi color stylish ski sweater looking like Jean-Claude Killy leaving the slopes of the alps to join a group of murderous hungover Orangemen into the Catskills. That was when the paranoia began to settle in, and I had gone from fierce hunter to frightened sheep following the crowd in two seconds. George sensed my apprehension and led me to a spot halfway down a mountain, “You stay here JT and if you see a deer shoot it. I’ll be around seeing if I can spook one out” He left and I was alone wondering what I will do once I really do see a deer. I kept thinking about Bambi and I decided I better not look the animal in the eye or there I no way I’ll shoot. The opportunity never came up, although I did see a cute bear cub off in the distance, and I watched a group of beavers working in the stream. Dam they were good!
George came back and collected me for lunch. We went back to the bar at the motel to get some chili con carne and when we walked in half the crew from last night were there and drinking already. The paranoia quickly returned as I listened to them talk about a kill, a shot, or something called a “sound shot” George came over with the chili, “You okay JT?” “Yeah I’m okay, little cold and I wish I had something orange to wear. By the way George, that dude over there was talking about ‘nuthin but a sound shot‘. What’s a sound shot?” George looked a tad concerned, “When you don’t actually see the animal but you hear it making a sound.” I was floored. Holy shit, what if I was sounding like a deer? I ate my chili in silence but all I could think about was these drunken fools taking sound shots after lunch.
The rest of the trip was uneventful and I basically hid in the woods trying not to sound like a deer. Along with the other hunters we got drunk at night and they kept talking about how they will “sacrifice the animal” if they have a decent shot. Luckily the weather took a bad turn and it was snowing too hard to hunt effectively. George got off one shot but missed but I never even raised the rifle to my shoulder once. I was okay with that. I said I would try hunting, knew it was not for me but found out I was understating how wrong much it wasn‘t for me. To this day I have never killed another animal, and I never plan to kill one. I eat meat, I’ll even eat venison, although I think its bullshit they call them deer when they kill (or sacrifice) it but venison when they eat it, but I guess it eases their conscience after slaughtering an unarmed animal. I did take George to a Grateful Dead concert and got him stoned, and he had a great time but didn’t convert. He was and always will be a “Rolling Stones Guy” but as long as he digs it that’s cool. He did smoke weed with me a lot more after that so I did make a bit of progress. I lost touch with George, as is usually does life got in the way and we both moved on and I’m sure he still hunts and that’s okay, because I still indulge in my passions as well. I used to wonder what I would have done if I was face with the opportunity to shoot an animal, would I have taken the shot. But as time has passed I have come to realize there is no way I would have pulled the trigger. I’m proud of that fact but in the end if I couldn’t buy food I’d be dead and wouldn’t be here to write these twisted stories. It is what it is…..PEACE